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A SBNation Community about Minor League Baseball, Rookies, and Prospects



Updated: 2017-11-19T09:00:31-05:00

 



Houston Astros: Evan Gattis talks his DII roots and the rise of El Oso Blanco

2017-11-19T09:00:31-05:00

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Evan Gattis is a World Series Champion. Thanks to DII he got the chance of a lifetime.

(Note from the author: This piece isn’t minor league related, but I often take the time to share my observations from my coverage of DII baseball on draft prospects. Due to Evan Gattis’ DII roots at Texas of the Permian Basin, I was afforded the opportunity to discuss those early days with him and wanted to share with our loyal community. Enjoy!)

From NCAA.com:

Evan Gattis is a World Series champion. His long journey to the acme of the Major League Baseball world has been one of the more unique stories. It may have never happened if it weren't for his time with University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

The Texas native grew up on baseball, surrounded by some of today's greats playing for the Dallas Tigers, the premier amateur baseball team in Texas. Names like Corey Kluber and Clayton Kershaw were his teammates. Gattis was seemingly destined for big league stardom at an early age. He originally planned to attend Texas A&M, but life challenges got in his way. After years of wandering and soul searching, Gattis was ready to return to the sport he loved.

His step-brother Drew Kendrick was pitching for UTPB in 2010. Kendrick could be the one credited with the rebirth of Gattis' baseball career.

“I decided I was going to play again," Gattis said via phone call. "I didn’t know if I had any eligibility left being a 23-year-old. Academically I was a junior, but baseball-wise, I was just a sophomore. Drew gave me a call and said, ‘this is where I am, I’m at UTPB and I love it here. Maybe you should meet coach and see if you can get an opportunity to come out’. It was the only school I talked to. I felt good about it. We met at a restaurant in Dallas, and it was a good situation.”

What was next, Gattis didn't know. But he knew he was back in a familiar environment doing what he does best. Hitting baseballs a very long way.

“I didn’t know what to expect," Gattis said. "It had been so long since I had played. That was all icing on the cake. I was kind of in the, ‘why not go play college baseball?’ mode, because at least I go to college. You could do a lot worse than playing college baseball. My goal was to not quit that year, and just finish out my classes, do well in school, and finish the season. I started liking it, trying to get better, and then I got noticed by a couple of different teams.”

You can read the full interview here:

For Evan Gattis' the road to the World Series went through Texas of the Permian Basin




Arizona Diamondbacks: 3 prospects you need to know

2017-11-18T10:17:40-05:00

Take a look at three prospects in the DBacks system that could take the next step in 2018. The Arizona Diamondbacks are trending in the right direction. A new front office and the National League Manager of the Year had this team back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011. While the farm system took some hits under the old regime, there are quite a few pieces left that could provide help down the road. Here are three under the radar names to know. Anfernee Grier, OF Grier was selected out of Auburn with the 39th overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. He made his debut last season in the Northwest League, but a shoulder injury limited what he was capable of doing. The biggest takeaway from our own John Sickels assessment is that Grier is a high risk, high reward prospect. He has all of the tools, with speed being his biggest asset. Many thought the shoulder hindered what appeared to be plentiful raw power, but a four home run campaign in 2017 leads to question marks. Grier does have some swing-and-miss issues, but he does draw walks (10.6 percent of his plate appearances in 2017) which is helps a player with his speed profile. He hits a ton of ground balls (49.3 percent batted ball rate in 2017) and the lack of loft may be from adjustments he needs in his swing mechanics. Overall, Grier seems to be a toolsy player who could stick in centerfield thanks to that speed. If he doesn’t develop the power he may be destined for a fourth outfielder role. He’s now 22 coming off his first full season of ball. It wouldn’t be a reach to see him jump two or three levels this season and wind up in Double-A for the bulk of the year. Jared Miller, LHP Miller was from the Vanderbilt 2014 National Championship squad. If there is one thing we know about Vandy of late, it’s that they can definitely pump out big league talent. The huge lefty (he stands at 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds) was a starter with the Commodores. He struggled in his first year as a starter in the pros, but since converting to the bullpen he has been brilliant. That’s primarily because he has a fastball-slider combo that is top notch and never really developed average stuff outside of that. Miller’s fastball is a mid-90s offering with sinking bite. That not only led to a ton of strikeouts, but a 50 percent ground ball rate in the slugger-friendly Pacific Coast League. His slider has cutter action and has become a strikeout pitch. The reliever was at his best on two of the bigger stages. He dominated the AFL, not allowing a run and striking out 30 in his 18.1 innings pitched. While he was average in the Southern League to start in 2017, he dominated the power-happy PCL, posting a 1.72 ERA, a 0.83 WHIP and striking out 43 and walking ten in 31.1 innings. Miller has the makings of a solid bullpen piece that can serve as a late inning guy and even close in a pinch. Andy Yerzy, C Talk about a complete about face. Here’s what John said about Yerzy in the 2017 preseason rankings: Age 18, second round pick in 2016 from high school in Canada; hit .216/.240/.265 in 162 at-bats in rookie ball, which is terrible; ranks this highly in a thin farm system entirely due to physical potential; lefty hitter with 60-grade power and a good birthday; otherwise quite raw as a hitter and fielder; high-upside bat with a very large risk premium. Yerzy repeated Rookie ball as a 19-year-old and was infinitely better. He hit .298 with 12 doubles and 13 home runs in 54 games, so the power potential is certainly there. He maintained just about a 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk rate. Surprisingly, despite the increase of power, he still hit over 56 percent of his batted balls on the ground. Imagine what he could do putting the ball in the air more? He’s still developing behind the plate as his 13 passed balls clearly suggests. Yerzy threw out 14 of 48 (29 percent) of attempted base stealers. He’s a project for sure, and the D-backs have no reason to rush him. His development in full-season ball this year will show if he is simply a po[...]



Reason for optimism in Philadelphia, Part One

2017-11-18T09:15:02-05:00

How soon can the Phillies turn things around? After every major league season, we hear the same old talk: such-and-such team is rebuilding, so-and-so is a key free agent and is on the move, etc. Sometimes there is evidence to support a "rebuild" philosophy. Other times, not so much. From time to time, let's face it, it's a complete snow job. Sometimes, you just have to give the fans some hope to cling to for just one more season, until better prospects or affordable free-agent stars fall in your lap. On the surface, the 2017 season would seem like one that the Philadelphia Phillies would like to forget. At the big-league level, however, there is already enough talent to build a contending team, and though it will take some time it will surely be worth the wait. It's not always easy to be optimistic about a team that barely avoids the 100-loss mark, but there's an awful lot of talent in this organization. There were obvious highlights: Rhys Hoskins is one (.284, 29, 91, .966 OPS in Triple-A Lehigh Valley; .259, 18, 48 in 50 ML games), to be sure. Dylan Cozens certainly got his share of the ink (27 HR, 75 RBI), though his 194 strikeouts at Triple-A are clear evidence that he has plenty of room for improvement. The outfield of Aaron Altherr (.272, 19, 65, 24 doubles, .859 OPS), Nick Williams (.288, 12, 55, .811 OPS in 83 games), and Odubel Herrera (.281, 14, 56, 42 doubles, .778 OPS) were all positive notes, and are likely to form part of the core of a resurgent Phillies lineup. John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports Aaron Altherr Third baseman Maikel Franco had something of an off year, offensively (.230, 24, 76, .690 OPS), as did shortstop Freddie Galvis (.255, 12, 61, .690 OPS). First baseman Tommy Joseph (.240, 22, 69, .721 OPS), despite fair numbers in an offensively-starved batting order, finished last on the team in WAR (-1.3). At age 25, Joseph's numbers stand to improve along with the rest of this young lineup. Second baseman Cesar Hernandez was steady, if unspectacular (.294, 34 RBI, 41 XBH, 15 SB), and led the team with a 3.1 WAR and runs above average with fifteen. On the mound, Aaron Nola (12-11, 3.54), Hector Neris (3.01 ERA in 74 games, 26 saves), and Luis Garcia (2.65 ERA in 66 games) certainly carried their own weight, but both Vince Velasquez (2-7, 5.13) and Jeremy Hellickson (6-5, 4.73) lost roughly half the season to injury, and the other half wasn't so great, either. Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports RHP Jerad Eickhoff's 2017 (4-8, 4.71 in 24 starts, 53 walks in 128 IP) was a disappointing follow-up to his 11-14, 3.65 showing in 2016, but he also lost time to neurological issues in his pitching arm which cost him all of September and could have affected him well before then. If he's going to remain in the rotation, he'll have to develop a third pitch of some kind. Jake Thompson showed promise (3.88 ERA in 11 appearances, 8 starts), but it's way too early to tell how he'll do over a full season at the major-league level. Mark Leiter (3-6, 4.96 in 90 2/3 IP) continues to live and die with his splitter, and in most any other scenario he wouldn't have been forced into a ML rotation. Healthy starters will push Leiter back into the 'pen, where he could be consistently effective if not dominant. Lefty Hoby Milner posted an outstanding 2.01 ERA in 37 appearances as a specialist, but his 1.47 WHIP, 4.6 BB/9 and 6.3 K/9 are large red flags. All of these were core players for a team that finished 66-96 and firmly ensconced in last place in the National League East. There is little argument to be made here: as the roster currently stands, this isn't a playoff-bound team. However, there is a lot of upside in the lineup, a possibility clouded by a combination of off-year production and multiple injuries in the pitching corps. But it's also a very young roster (average age 26.5), and players like Franco, Altherr and Herrera could be very close to their peak-offense seasons. Hoskins turns 25 in 2018, and while [...]



Athletics trade Ryon Healy to Mariners for Emilio Pagan, prospect Alexander Campos

2017-11-17T20:40:44-05:00

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Alexander Campos could be the best player in this trade in the (very) long run

On Wednesday the Oakland Athletics traded first baseman/third baseman Ryon Healy to the Seattle Mariners for right-handed pitcher Emilio Pagan and shortstop Alexander Campos. Healy and Pagan are both solid players, Healy as a young power hitter of course and Pagan (who exceeded rookie qualifications in 2017) as a very good relief pitcher.

The most valuable in the long run, however, may be Campos, who is years away but has the most defensive value and some offensive upside. Here’s a quick take.

Alexander Campos, SS: The Mariners signed Campos out of Venezuela in the summer of 2016, giving him a $575,000 bonus. His pro debut was successful: he hit .290/.413/.367 in the Dominican Summer League with 41 walks and 39 strikeouts in 207 at-bats.

Campos is listed at 6-0, 178, a right-handed hitter born February 20, 2000. Scouting reports focus on his defense, noting above-average arm strength, enough range to remain at shortstop, and better reliability than most infielders his age.

In 48 games in the DSL he posted a .940 fielding percentage with a 4.27 range factor at shortstop. It is true that defensive statistics at the lowest levels must be taken with large grains of salt but the numbers are a credible beginning and do not contradict the positive scouting reports.

The bat is intriguing as well. Again, numbers from the DSL must be interpreted cautiously: there are many examples of players who struggle in the Summer League who blossom once they get to the United States, as well as players who crush the DSL but have problems once they arrive on the mainland.

That said, a good start is better than a bad one and Campos is off to a good start, showing sharp strike zone judgment in his debut and the potential for gap power. His running speed is reported at 55 or 60 but he does need to improve his reads on the bases: he swiped seven but was caught ten times.

Overall, the Athletics picked up a young player who has a very good chance to stick at shortstop and has a shot at being a good hitter, too. Campos is years away but the potential exists for him to be the most complete player in this trade.




Mariners trade pitching prospect Thyago Vieira to White Sox for international bonus pool money

2017-11-17T16:03:16-05:00

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Hard-throwing right-hander joins Chicago farm system

On Thursday the Seattle Mariners traded right-handed pitcher Thyago Vieira to the Chicago White Sox for an undisclosed amount of international bonus pool money.

Here’s a quick take on the newest member of the Chicago system.

Thyago Vieira, RHP: The Mariners signed Vieira out of Brazil in 2010 for $65,000. He struggled on reaching full-season ball in 2014, with ERAs well over 5.00 in the Midwest League in ‘14 and ‘15 with poor peripherals to match. He turned around in ‘16, posting a 2.84 ERA with a 53/18 K/BB in 44 innings in the California League, then followed up with a 4.00 ERA in 54 innings this season between Double-A and Triple-A with a 46/22 K/BB.

Vieira pitched in one game this year for the Mariners on August 14th, throwing a scoreless inning against the Baltimore Orioles.

Listed at 6-2, 210, Vieira is a right-handed hitter and thrower born July 1, 1993. He looks a little thick in the lower half and there’s some effort in his delivery. He throws extremely hard, hitting 99-100 consistently, with reports as high as 102-103, even 104. He made good progress with fastball command over the last two seasons but his secondary pitches remain erratic.

His breaking ball is described as either a power curve and a slider depending on who is doing the describing and he’ll also use a change-up with dropping/splitter action. Both secondaries are mediocre at best (J.J. Cooper at Baseball America gives his secondary arsenal a 40-grade) but could improve in time.

Right now he profiles as a hard-throwing short and middle reliever who might close eventually if his secondaries develop further.

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Minor League Ball Gameday: Friday, November 17, 2017

2017-11-17T15:07:16-05:00

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Highlights from the last day of regular Arizona Fall League action.

Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the Minor League Ball Gameday discussion thread for Friday, November 17th, 2017. Here are some highlights from Thursday’s action in the Arizona Fall League.

*****The Glendale Desert Dogs stomped the Salt River Rafters 11-3, with Cornelius Randolph of the Philadelphia Phillies system the big offensive star with a 3-for-4 game. Logan Hill of the Pittsburgh Pirates system went 3-for-5 with three RBI,.

*****The Peoria Javelinas beat the Scottsdale Scorpions 6-4. Seattle Mariners prospect Eric Filia went 2-for-3 with two runs scored for Peoria and finished the AFL regular season with a .408 average.

*****The Surprise Saguaros triumphed over the Mesa Solar Sox 10-5 thanks to a 15-hit barrage. Tampa Bay Rays catching prospect Brett Sullivan went 3-for-5 with two RBI, while teammate Kevin Padlo (also from the Rays system) went 2-for-5 with three RBI.

*****Thursday’s Boxscores

*****There are no Arizona Fall League games today. On Saturday the Mesa Solar Sox will take on the Peoria Javelinas for the 2018 AFL Championship at 1:00 MST.

*****Arizona Fall League hitting statistics

*****Arizona Fall League pitching statistics

IN THE PIPELINE

Later this afternoon I should have prospect reports for a couple of MLB transactions that happened this week. After that I will begin work on the Houston Astros Top 20 prospects for 2018 list. On Monday we will also do a rundown of top Fall League performers and their outlooks for 2018.




Chicago Cubs organization discussion

2017-11-17T08:44:02-05:00

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Let’s talk about the future of the Chicago Cubs

I am now working on the Houston Astros Top 20 prospects list for 2018. The next team in line is the Chicago Cubs, to be followed by the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland Athletics, Washington Nationals, Cleveland Indians, and the San Diego Padres.

Use this thread to discuss the Chicago Cubs organization. Possible points for discussion include, but are certainly not limited to:

****The Cubs finished 92-70 in 2017, first place in the National League Central and a successful season even if it didn’t result in a World Championship this time. What do you see for 2018? 90+ wins again?

****What are the biggest holes that need to be filled, and how would you go about filling them?

****Is Kris Bryant at his peak now or can he actually improve?

****When will the efforts to add pitching to the system bear fruit?

****True or False: 2017 first-round pick Alex Lange is actually an under-rated prospect.

****As always, feel free to discuss prospect sleepers or anything else Cubs-oriented.




Top 20 Prospects lists for 2018: Index by organization

2017-11-16T17:03:49-05:00

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Here’s a central index for Minor League Ball’s 2018 Top 20 prospects lists for each farm system.

Here is an index for all the Minor League Ball Top 20 Prospects lists for all 30 MLB organizations for 2018. This will be updated each time a new team is added.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals (published November 9, 2017)
Minnesota Twins (posted October 24, 2017)

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

Houston Astros
Los Angeles Angels
Oakland Athletics
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Atlanta Braves (posted November 3rd, 2017)
Miami Marlins
New York Mets
Philadelphia Phillies
Washington Nationals

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

Chicago Cubs
Cincinnati Reds
Milwaukee Brewers
Pittsburgh Pirates
St. Louis Cardinals

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

Arizona Diamondbacks
Colorado Rockies
Los Angeles Dodgers (posted November 16, 2017)
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants